Fred Bronson discusses "American Juniors," "American Idols," fading singles and more with readers.



I was watching "American Juniors" on Aug. 5 where it was announced that all the songs from that night's show would be from the upcoming American Juniors album. The songs included "Reach," "Never Had a Dream Come True," "Have You Ever," "You" and "Alive." It's also been announced that the Juniors' debut single will be "One Step Closer".

As an international chart-watcher, you're probably aware that all these songs have already been big U.K. hits for either S Club 7 (who became simply S Club) or their younger spin-off S Club Juniors (who became S Club 8). It's not altogether surprising given the producers behind all three acts are the same people.

I expect the single to do well in sales, but I can't see radio touching it. The album is already in the top 200 of some Web merchants. What chance do you give the world's youngest tribute band?


Pat Kelly
Brampton, Canada

Dear Pat,

Another way to put your question is, if the American Idols had a hard time securing airplay, what chances do the American Juniors have?

The U.K. was very receptive to the recordings of S Club 7 and the S Club Juniors and the groups they morphed into -- S Club and S Club 8. The American Juniors have become the U.S. equivalent and they have a tougher row to hoe.

I had my own suggestions of what the American Juniors should record, and made them a few weeks ago over lunch with Nigel Wright, producer of the American Juniors single and albums (there are actually two albums being recorded).

By the way, I've been impressed with the singing talent of some of the Juniors. Whatever happens with the group, I think some of them will do very well on their own when they are a little older.



Thank you for talking about something other than the "American Idol" winners, but on that note, perhaps one final note?

It looks like Clay's song (I have never heard either his or Ruben's song played here in Canada. Tells you something about their popularity here!) is in and out of the top-40 in a mere seven weeks, a record for shortest time for a No. 1? Ruben's No. 2 was gone even faster. I recall that Huey Lewis and the News' song "Jacob's Ladder" zoomed, strangely, on and off the Hot 100 in a mere 15 weeks, tying the since-played-to-death "Hotel California" for quickest exit from No. 1, if my memory of reading about those singles way back when serves me correct.

This would be interesting commentary for your "Chart Beat" column in about a month for what I predict will be two one-hit wonders.

I think it would be a worthy distinction for a fabricated-for-TV star to have, the fastest fading No. 1 of all time!


Derek Goss

Dear Derek,

One-hit wonders? Kelly Clarkson wasn't, and I don't think Clay Aiken or Ruben Studdard will be, either.

I also wouldn't agree with your calling them fabricated-for-TV stars. That would be appropriate for the Monkees, who were known as the Pre-Fab Four back in the day. The four men who played the Monkees were actors playing musicians -- at least, at the beginning, before they actually played their own instruments on their records.

No matter what you think of them, the "American Idol" contestants weren't fabricated; they had talent and simply found an alternate way of attracting attention from radio airplay or music videos on television.

I did find some No. 1 songs that were in the top-40 for eight or nine weeks, but none that exited the top-40 after seven weeks until "This Is the Night."

"Jacob's Ladder" did have a 15-week run on the Hot 100, but that same year, Michael Jackson's No. 1 hit "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" was on the Hot 100 for 14 weeks. But let's not forget that back in 1964, the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" was on the Hot 100 for a mere 10 weeks.


Dear Fred,

At a recent American Idols Live concert, Clay Aiken mentioned that the next single off his debut album (No. 7 on Amazon's list of best-sellers last I checked -- with no firm release date) would be the song "Invisible." Although I've only heard bootleg copies, it is a terrific song which several reviewers have said will be an instant pop hit. I agree.

When would I expect to be able to hear this on the radio? The release date for the album is still uncertain. Does the single release need to correspond with the album?

I can honestly say Aiken's debut album is the first one in years that I am very anxiously awaiting. I think his talent is phenomenal and if his fans have anything to say about it he will be around for a long time.

Thank you.


Melanie Lightbody
Madras, Ore.

Dear Melanie,

According to RCA, and Clay Aiken himself, there is no decision yet as to what the follow-up single to "This Is the Night" will be. It may be "Invisible," which Clay sings in concert, or it may not be. Single and album release dates do not need to be the same, and I would expect the label to release the second single in advance of the album. Keep in mind that RCA might choose not to release a commercial single of a second single by Clay, to insure they'll sell more albums. Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" is an airplay-only track, with no commercial single available to purchase.

So I don't know when you'll hear a new Clay Aiken song on the radio, but I do know when you'll hear more of Clay. He returns to "The Billboard Radio Countdown" next week as a special guest. He won't be alone -- our other special guests are Ruben Studdard, Kimberley Locke, Trenyce, Carmen Rasmussen, Kimberly Caldwell, Rickey Smith, Julia DeMato and Charles Grigsby.

"Countdown" host Chuck Taylor and I spent a weekend in Providence, R.I., recording "The Billboard Radio Countdown" backstage at the Dunkin Donuts Center. What are we counting down? The all-time favorite songs of each Idol finalist. They'll talk about their experiences on the tour, and then introduce their personal all-time favorite songs. There'll be some surprise guest stars as well, but you'll have to listen to the show to find out who they are. The show is for the week ending Aug. 16, and it will be posted at on Monday, Aug. 11.


Hi Fred,

I'm sorry to see your weekly trivia question ending. It has been a lot of fun these past seven years trying to solve the questions. It has been an enjoyable
form of entertainment for me and, as a side benefit, has helped improve my Internet search skills a lot.

I've thought about sending in questions for you to use (I'm sure many of us have some good ones, as well as your colleagues at Billboard), but then I realized you would never use them, as it would give some an unfair advantage.

Perhaps now you can accept them for the weekly Billboard Radio question?

Can you keep posting a link for a couple more months for those of us that have not received their last few CDs? There seems to have been a problem over the past six months. I haven't received any CDs this year and emails to seem to fall on deaf ears. I suspect I am not the only one.

Thanks again for the good work involved with this column and website.

Alan Van Antwerp
Austin, Texas

Dear Alan,

You're right about not accepting trivia questions from outside sources. With one exception in seven years, I didn't take questions from anyone else to insure the integrity of the contest. Speaking of which, I apologize for any problems you had with receiving your prizes. That should not have happened, and when you wrote to the trivia e-mail address, you should have heard back from someone.

As most readers know, I wrote the questions and supplied the answers, but I did not administer the contest. Every Friday, I went to the site to see who had won. However, I want to make sure everyone who won a prize receives their CD.

Any "Chart Beat" reader who won the contest and did not receive a prize should e-mail me with complete details, including what the question and answer were, and if possible, the date of the contest. Include information about where a CD should be sent. Please contact me no later than Sept. 30 in order to receive your prize.


Dear Fred,

Small correction to Hillel Zelman's comment about "The Flying Saucer" and "Mr. Jaws" by Dickie Goodman. The gap between those top-10 records was 19, not 18, years, between 1956 and 1975 (not 1974).

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

Is this what they mean by jumping the shark?

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